TITLE: The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press

ACCESS: http://people-press.org/

Whether you want to track the nation's current political opinions or chart trends in media use and news interest, this site is a great place to start. Formerly known as the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press (1990-1995), the Center is now one of many interests funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and is a self-described "independent opinion research group that studies attitudes toward the press, politics, and public policy issues." Directed by independent pollster Andrew Kohut, former president of the Gallup Organization, this non-profit organization researches in the following principal areas: People & the Press, People, the Press & Politics, News Index Interest, America's Place in the World, and Media Use. The Center studies public opinion both on current events, such as the military action against Iraq, or genetic research, and perennial interests, such as religion, business, and the economy. A special "Global Attitudes" project offers an international perspective.

This thoughtfully constructed Web site is uncluttered and easy to navigate from the homepage, which features the most recent work of the Center, through the well-labeled content tabs in the header. The heart of the site includes the "Survey Reports," accessible chronologically or grouped by topic or year back to 1995. Each report presents a clear summary of findings, details of the methodology used, and a copy of the questionnaire. "Search Questionnaires" provides simple keyword access to the site research and includes a helpful toggle to sort results by date or relevance. Finally, a unique "News Interest Index" lists by percentage of responses the most closely followed news stories from 1986 to 2002.

Researchers who like to work with raw data may appreciate the availability of the survey data sets, which may be downloaded from the site six months after the reports are issued. The Center also offers a variety of commentaries that put the research in perspective. The "In The News" tab highlights Pew research studies featured by selected media including The New York Times, Washington Post, News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and National Public Radio. Finally, the Center site links to a few dozen other recent media polls, such as those conducted by ABC, Gallup, and Newsweek.

Although intended for political leaders, journalists, scholars, and public interest organizations, The Pew Research Center site will also appeal to teachers and students in the fields of communication, media studies, business, and political science or anyone interested in survey research. In addition, individuals curious about American attitudes on political, domestic, and media issues will find the reports themselves illuminating.

Barbara Valentine
Linfield College
bvalen@linfield.edu


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